Pitchside Europe

Forget Ozil and Giroud: Cazorla is Arsenal’s key to beating Bayern

Santi Cazorla

It seems almost an eternity ago that Arsenal came within a Nicklas Bendtner missed chance from dumping the then 'greatest side on the planet', Barcelona, out of the Champions League.

Back then, at the Nou Camp in 2011, Arsenal had the likes of Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas and, before his sending off, Robin van Persie.

When Arsenal face the latest 'greatest side on the planet' in Bayern Munich, they'll have a team that's arguably every bit as good as the one that gave Pep Guardiola's Barcelona a scare just over three years ago.

The Gunners have Jack Wilshere, who is far more mature a player than he was on that night at Camp Nou, record signing Mesut Ozil and midfield enforcer Mathieu Flamini to call upon, and even without the injured Aaron Ramsey and suspended Mikel Arteta the Gunners' midfield is looking stronger than ever.

But despite the abundance of talent Arsenal have to call upon, it could well be another midfielder that proves the difference when they face the Champions of Europe. Our friends at Squawka.com explain why Santi Cazorla holds Arsenal's fate in his hands.

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Santi Cazorla

Santi Cazorla hasn't quite reached the heights to make Arsenal fans start thinking 'Cesc who?' but he's not far off, with a number of sublime performances this season, which may just give Arsene Wenger confidence going into such a difficult tie against such an impressive midfield.

Cazorla could be the difference against Guardiola's side. While the Spaniard has yet to truly shine in the Champions League, his performances on the domestic front should make Arsenal fans confident he can help their side overcome the odds and cause an upset.

Picture from the Squawka.com app

Cazorla has won enough Squawka awards this season to prove he's a vital cog in the Arsenal midfield machine. And while some of you may be sceptical of the gravity of such accolades, let me assure you that - unlike frivolous player of the month awards and Ballon D'or nominations - these aren't handed out lightly.

The Spaniard may be regarded as a creative force in the Arsenal midfield - and rightly so - but he isn't afraid to get involved defensively, something that will without a doubt prove vital to the Gunners' chances of progressing past the all-conquering Bayern Munich.

Arsenal's best result in the competition this season came away at Borussia Dortmund where something of a smash and grab 1-0 win saw them place one foot firmly in the next round.

Cazorla played a crucial role in Germany and his clearances helped ensure that it was Wenger and not Juergen Klopp who was being lauded as a genius the following morning.

A midfielder that can create as Cazorla does, but also contribute defensively will be fundamental to Arsenal when it comes to facing the likes of Toni Kroos, Thomas Mueller and Thiago Alcantara in what promises to be a cracker of a tie.